Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zebulon Pike & Some Z's

It's the last day of the A-to-Z Challenge, the zenith of our efforts, and I, for one, am feeling zealous and zen, with a zest for my continued writing.  This challenge has helped me regain discipline in dedicating time to my writing and blogging.  That, paired with the energy I came away from the Pikes Peak Writer's Conference with, has spurred me on to getting started on a new story that I'd barely come up with the concept on before.  In the middle of a dinner at the conference, I knew what I wanted to call it, and suddenly my brain was flooded with ideas, like I'd broken through a dam that had been holding them back.  I've since written several pages of notes, and I'm impatient to get started on it.

The idea had nothing to do with what was going on at the conference.  I think my creativity was just amped up by everything this month.  That is precisely why I think the conference is something I need each year, and why I feel I need to have outings with fellow writers on occasion.  I need to keep that energy flowing, and the best way to do that is to be writing and to hang out with like minded individuals, either online or in person.  I do think in person is necessary at least part of that time, though.  I don't get the same energy of online interaction as I do in person.  We, as writers, spend way too much time locked in our dungeons working, as it is, so getting out is vital.

I'm going to save my A-to-Z observations for my reflections post, since I'd already covered them in my "Z" post last year, thus failing to participate.  I do also want to say, though, to keep an eye on the A-to-Z Challenge Blog for information on the May 7th sign-ups for the reflections posts and on a little something Tina and I will be doing to help you get around to those blogs you missed during the challenge.

ebulon Pike

 The journey of Zebulon Pike, like that of Lewis and Clark, technically took place before the time known as the Wild West. However, the west was even more wild during his time, and it is his journey, along with Lewis and Clark's, that made western travel ultimately feasible.

Zebulon Montgomery Pike was born January 5, 1779, in Lamberton (Trenton), New Jersey. His father was an officer in the Continental Army, and Zebulon, Jr. joined him in 1794. In 1799, he reached first lieutenant. His first major assignment came in 1805, when he received orders to find the source of the Mississippi River. He and twenty men departed St. Louis on August 9, declared Leech Lake the headwaters of the Mississippi, built a fort, worked on Indian relations, and arrived home on April 30, 1806.
He wasn't home long before he was ordered back out again, this time to examine the southern portion of the Louisiana Purchase (Lewis and Clark explored the north), and to find the sources of the Arkansas and Red Rivers. His expedition (known as the Pike Expedition) took off July 15, 1806. They discovered the Royal Gorge (in modern day Canon City, Colorado) and headed north, where they sighted a majestic peak (now named Pikes Peak, visible at its very best here in Colorado Springs, Colorado). They attempted to scale it, but it was November, and they were not properly prepared to climb a mountain, especially one over 14,000 feet tall. They were on Mount Rosa when the snow reached their waists, and they were forced to give up, lacking proper clothing, equipment and food. Because food is darned important.

They continued their mission, looking for the Red River's origin, but they became lost and, in February of 1806, they were captured by Spanish authorities, that area being part of New Mexico at the time, rather than Colorado. They were released July 1, 1807, because Spain and America were not at war, though they did peruse his documents and translate them before his release. They kept his documents, which weren't returned to the U.S. government until sometime in the 1900's, but he was able to write down much of it from memory, even producing a book that was translated into several languages: The Expeditions of Zebulon Montgomery Pike to Headwaters of the Mississippi River, Through Louisiana Territory, and in New Spain, During the Years 1805-6-7. If it hadn't sold so well, I'd say that sounds like a fairly dull book, considering the title. Yeesh!

He climbed the ranks upon his return home, and departed for his final mission in 1813 as a brigadier general. He was leading his troops in the Battle of York (in Canada), when the Canadian military blew up their ammunition, sending rocks and debris flying. Zebulon was struck in the head and died, April 27, 1813. His body was shipped back to the States for burial.

He left behind quite a legacy. The mountain he failed to climb is still named after him, his book sold internationally, he did a lot of good with Indian relations, his discoveries furthered progress, and he fought bravely for his country. What more could you ask for?  

Ever heard of Zebulon Pike? Do you think his name rocks as much as I do?

May you find your Muse.

 *Letter Z courtesy of Mohamed Ibrahim,
**Portrait of Zebulon Pike, about 1810; Engraving by David Edwin; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA; Wikimedia Commons
***An 1839 engraving of the death of American brigadier general Zebulon Pike at the Battle of York near York, Upper Canada (present day Toronto) on 27 April 1813; See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; Author Unknown


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've never gotten together with a bunch of writers in person. So far the online group has kept me motivated.
We did it - Z-end!

Matthew MacNish said...

Congrats on surviving the whole thing, Shannon!

Annalisa Crawford said...

Zebulon Pike is a great name!

It's been a brilliant challenge - thanks for co-hosting.

Julie Flanders said...

Thanks for co-hosting the Challenge, Shannon! It's been a great month and I've really enjoyed your old west tales.

Laura S. said...

Hello, Shannon! Isn't it funny when, where, and how ideas come to us?? Good luck and have fun with your new story!

Congrats to you and the entire hosting team!!! You all did an awesome job. It's been another super fun Blogging Challenge!

Have a wonderful week and happy A to Z!!

Inger said...

Just wanted to stop by and thank you for hosting the A to Z Challenge. I enjoyed it very much.

Anonymous said...

Hi Shannon! Great way to wrap up the challenge.


Arlee Bird said...

I wrote about a different Zebulon today and yes Z Pike had a fine name.

I drove up to the top of Pike's Peak in 1979 and laughed about as much as I ever have in my life--maybe it was giddiness from lack of oxygen. It was a great experience being on top of that mountain. We sang "America the Beautiful" while we were there.

Looking forward to hearing more about the writers' conference.

Places I Remember
Wrote By Rote
An A to Z Co-host blog

A Daft Scots Lass said...

I thought Z was going to be hard one. A brilliant challenge. Well done on making it to the end.

Andrew Leon said...

We studied Pike. Of course, I did grow up in Shreveport, so we did a lot of stuff about the Red River.

Lisa Southard said...

A truly fantastic name- I know a few Pikes but no Zebulon. Congratulations on the A-Z and the creative surge! :-)

Shannon Lawrence said...

Alex, can't argue with that support!

Matthew, congratulations to you, too!

Annalisa, it was fun!

Julie, thank you! I've enjoyed your tour!

Laura, thank you! It is definitely fun how ideas can come to us completely randomly. The creative brain is a wonderful thing!

Inger, thank you! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it.

Susan, thank you!

Lee, what a fun memory! It could definitely have been the lack of air, haha.

Daft Scots Lass, I think X was the hardest for me!

Andrew, that would make sense. The information on his private life was pretty sparse.

Lily, thank you!

Precy Larkins said...

Imagine being named Zebulon. :-P

Thanks for hosting the A-Z Challenge (along with the other hosts). :D

Shannon Lawrence said...

Cherie, I'd have to go by Zeb!